Guided Tour

Video Clip of Juan Ruiz as a young boy: "We can see with our ears."

This telling proclamation by 12 year old Juan Ruiz in 1994 set the foundation for our core conviction - that our vision is sound; blind people can learn to see. Juan Ruiz went on many years later to set a Guinness world record at their invitation for blind bicycling through a random obstacle course using FlashSonar.
According to the American Foundation for the Blind nearly 75% of blind people in the U.S. are unemployed, costing the federal government about 4 billion dollars annually (Prevent Blindness America, 1994). Despite many decades of worthy and charitable intentions, rampant unemployment and poor education continue to leave most blind people without the skills and resources to emerge from isolation, poverty, and restriction. World Access for the Blind , established in the new millennium, applies long awaited, high impact approaches of the modern age to open the way for blind children and adults to find freedom in our full potential. We demonstrate compellingly that blind people can achieve a quality of life of our own choosing when we gain freedom to access the world's resources and companionship.

A little About Daniel Kish

Daniel Kish, Our lead founder and President, became totally blind as an infant from retinoblastoma; yet, he grew as a normal child free to enjoy the world and learn by doing. Daniel taught himself when very young to "see" with sonar by clicking his tongue. This enables identification of spatial relationships, as well as structure and contour of objects, by using sound - similar to how a bat uses echolocation.

Daniel holds Masters' degrees in Psychology and special Education where he emphasized the study of children at risk, perceptual development, and information processing. He is the first totally blind person in the world known to have earned certification as an Orientation and Mobility Specialist, as this certificate was denied blind people prior. Daniel has since conducted, supported, and spearheaded ground breaking research in expanding human perception. He also acquired a second national Orientation and Mobility certificate, becoming the first and only blind person known to hold both certifications.

While Daniel has helped to set a positive example in the U.S. for others to follow, certification and employment in the field of Orientation and Mobility is still denied blind people in most countries, either by official policy or by social prejudice. Daniel led the establishment of World Access for the Blind in 2000 to share his unique knowledge and perspective to respectfully address the significant challenges confronting the blind, as well as publically showcase the achievement capacity of blind people. Find out more about this here.

What Makes World Access for the Blind Different?

World Access for the Blind is the first organization to be developed and directed by a totally blind, certified orientation and mobility specialist who is also a specialist in human perception, and who uses active echolocation as an integral part of his professional and daily life. We are the only organization known to combine an established, multi-disciplinary theoretical framework with hard science to develop and implement a respectful, comprehensive approach to help blind people of all ages, types, and backgrounds improve quality of life by activating the perceptual system of the brain to image nonvisual information. We are also the only one to develop and globally disseminate instructional materials and training for perceptual development, receiving international acclaim for this successful work. We are one of very few organizations to extend the full complement of Perceptual Mobility training, including Perception Cane training, to infants, toddlers, and those who are multiply or severely involved. We are also among the very few who charge little or nothing for our services under most circumstances. We do not generally market, sell, or promote. We go where we are invited, and stay where we're welcome. Finally, we are among the very few who apply a holistic approach with always a personal touch that includes work with student families and community, out of recognition that we all thrive best with support from our social system and community.

Our international recognition has come to us through many hundres of invited presentations and trainings delivered to thousands of participants throughout the world. We have been featured internationally in hundreds of scholarly and general interest publications, television, and radio. Our ground breaking research into expanding human perception, together with world travels and a wealth of professional exchange, allow us to learn and grow from many perspectives, strategies, and approaches to blindness in all its forms. It is this diversity of knowledge, and will to action that form the foundations of World Access for the Blind, and our ability to help ignite a new light for blind and sighted people world wide.

What Distinguishes Our Approach?

Our holistic approach to blind living and thriving grows from an unwavering belief in ability, over disability - in gain rather than loss for all people of all types and all ages. Under Daniel's warm and thoughtful direction, sensory specialists, engineers, and scientists, along with continuous input from our many students and partners, support the development and implementation of modern approaches to allow blind people to "see" with little or no sight. The blindness perspective, drawn from our relationships with thousdans of blind students and their surrounding communities, remains integral and fundatmental to every aspect of our approach. Our approach remains dynamic and alive, continuously evolving and improving with cutting edge discoveries, new perspectives, and fresh insights.

Our comprehensive approach incorporates the following components:

1. COMMUNITY ACCESS: improving access to community programs and resources including transportation, print, leisure and recreation (such as scouts and senior groups), education, vocation, commerce, and social services.

2. STUDENT FOCUS: working directly with students of all ages, blind and sighted, professional and consumer, along with their families and community through direct instruction and presentations to address blindness education, professional growth, enrichment, skills development, positive attitude building, sensory enhancement (such as FlashSonar and early perception cane training), informational counseling, and family dynamics without imposing financial hardship.

3. TECHNICAL CONSULTING: Supporting scientific research, and development of blindness related technology addressing alternative perception, computer and print reading, location information, and accessible public information to improve access to all aspects of the world.

4. PUBLIC AWARENESS: raising public consciousness about blindness in all its forms by broad dissemination of compelling information through presentations and publications about the full capabilities and genuine access challenges faced by blind people.

5. Addressing All Forms of Blindness: to offer the lessons learned from blind achievement and perspective to help blind and sighted people to learn from each other how to recognize and address every form of physical, mental, social, and spiritual blindness, and to look beyond it to a life of greater richness, freedom, and achievement.

6. PARTNERSHIPS: supporting the establishment of networks and collaborations to mobilize expertise and resources toward developing, evaluating, and distributing critical technology, services, and information.

To our knowledge, our approach is the only one spearheaded by a system of human active sonar which we call FlashSonar. By using sonar enhancement strategies and specialized instructional techniques which we've also developed, students use sound to tell what and where things are as if using dim flashes of light. Some students actually describe the experience as if they were "seeing" again.

We aim to meet more than the minimal requirement for survival. Thus, we infuse our revolutionary approach with a no LIMITS philosophy - affirming that all people, blind or sighted, can enjoy the freedom and strength of character to seek and discover our own limits and strengths without suffering limits imposed by others. This philosophy is well characterized in our TeamBat program which focuses on self-reliance, team cooperation, and personal leadership by providing recreational avenues for learning through activities such as solo (not tandem) mountain biking, mountaineering, and ball play.

World Access for the Blind rounds off our approach by employing some of our former students as Perceptual Mobility Coaches and instructors to share their success and help others to learn what they've learned. By always placing our students first, and holding the utmost respect for their freedom and achievement capacity, we have garnered warm regards and enthusiastic interest world wide.

Impact and Results

Our prolific professional development workshops, trainings, media coverage, and research involvements have affected countless people from every walk of life around the world. Our approach puts a decisive end to passivity and dependence. Our students become active, self-directed, productive participants to help shape the world.

For example, Brian Bushway, who lost his vision suddenly at 14, has been featured in over a dozen national and international news publications and TV programs as a blind mountain biker able to negotiate technical terrain at high speeds on his own bike. Brian Graduated from Pepperdine University, Has been featured in many media pieces, and now works as one of our Perceptual Mobility Coaches. Shannon, a middle aged woman who lost her sight in 1997, used our sonar techniques to walk 200 yards across a parking lot to a favorite restaurant after years of being unable to cross a simple street. And, Daniél, an 11 year old boy in México struck blind by a bus 4 years before, once angry and bewildered, sincerely thanks our staff in Spanish "Because I did not know that the mouth click would help me know where walls, trees, and things like that are."

How You Can Help

World Access for the Blind is a nonprofit charity, which relies on generous contributions to facilitate self-directed achievement for blind people throughout the world by developing and mobilizing cutting edge approaches. We most welcome and appreciate the generous contributions that you or your company/orgnization are able to make, allowing us to expand services to more blind people with better results, while continuing to keep our charges to little or nothing to most students. Your kind support and partnership will allow us to provide the necessary services for blind people that will facilitate true independence and freedom to achieve. Find out how you can help. We look forward to your partnership.

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